In a groundbreaking step forward, Gold Coast Councillors spent nearly an hour yesterday deliberating over support for the creation of a new artificial surf break, with a possibility of even more to come, in an attempt to ease congestion and crowding on the Coast’s popular breaks.
On Friday next week council will sit for its last meeting of the year, and it now appears likely that the Draft Gold Coast Surf Management Plan – which suggests up to five new artificial breaks to be built – is going to be approved and endorsed by majority vote.
The first part of that plan includes a $17 million artificial reef capable of delivering up to 300m long left and righthand waves, to be designed and built just off the shoreline at Palm Beach. Whilst artificial reef surf spots were once a thing of myth, today’s rapidly advancing hydrology and engineering practices and understanding make it now something that may be within our grasp.
Mother Nature herself is perhaps the greatest unknown factor in such a plan, and of course time will tell on all matters including whether the councillors and mayor actually follow through on this. It is a step in the right direction though, as our surf breaks continue to attract even more people and less waves to share.
Other parts of the plan include options to repair and grow the existing Narrowneck artificial reef to provide better surf. The Narrowneck reef was primarily designed for beach protection, however, during its first twelve months it produced some interesting bowling righthanders.
When the right tide, swell and wind combined, there would be a suck takeoff, followed by an intense but very short barrel that would pinch before rolling off onto the inside sand bar. When the sand was right, a perfect 50m sand-bottom ruler edge bank would reel off the side of the reef.
The Narrowneck reef was short-lived though as the geotextile sand bags were soon torn apart by haphazard fishermen’s anchors and cyclone swells. They began to fall apart and slowly sink into the sand – the wave faded then into nothingness just a year or two later.
Other options for new manmade or man influenced waves in the management plan include suggestions for strategic sand pumping to create beachbreak peaks along the coast – northward from Burleigh up to Broadbeach or beyond.
It is understood the surf management plan has been meticulously planned in cooperation between key Gold Coast surfing representatives and council engineers.
The upcoming vote and likely endorsement of the management plan has once again exposed the mayor’s skittish and fluttery stance on surfing matters within the city. In June this year he blasted the idea of new artificial reefs being designed for surfing and dismissively reminded the surfing community that the interests of surfers are largely superfluous to his own views. The mayor said new surf breaks were not his concern despite loads of calls for a solution to be delivered over crowded Gold Coast conditions.
This week’s events left the mayor exposed, once again demonstrating his propensity to support or condemn ideas and suggestions whenever they seem to suit his personal mood or opinion.
In campaigning before the last election Tate pledged to the southern Gold Coast surfing community that if they voted for him, he’d fix the Kirra groyne, saying, “If Kerry Srlater (sic) thinks this is the best place to surf, well who could argue with that?”
It all changed once he had all the surfers’ votes though, and shortly after the election he embarked on a tyrannical and humiliating public march against the surfing community which saw him level personal attacks at Mick Fanning, threaten South Stradbroke with a massive cruise terminal, back the proposed Bob Ell Kirra terminal idea and walk away from his Kirra promises.
It was only after enormous public pressure that the Kirra job was reinstated and finally done, albeit about 25m short of where it originally was and not without its own series of problems including cost blowouts and the failure to seek the appropriate state permits before beginning the works.
Yesterday councillor Paul Taylor and Southport Councillor Dawn Crichlow appeared less than enthusiastic on the new surf management plan and attempted to have the decision on endorsing the plan delayed until next year, however, talk is that the majority of councillors will likely override them.
Burleigh councillor Greg Betts is a keen surfer himself and has been closely working with the boardriding community to help refine and drive the plan.
Surfing and the local surf industry is second only to general domestic tourism as the leading driver of our local economy, injecting over $3 billion per year straight into the Gold Coast.